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Old Feb 27, 2005, 11:35 AM   #1
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Hello All,

I am researching Steve's site and others trying to decide on the best choice for a digital camera with 640X480 unlimited recording. The





Fuji FinePix E550 Zoomseems like a good choice based on the quality of the sample pictures and video clip. It does not have a hot shoe but an inexpensive slave unit could always be used to add some extra lumens in large dimly-lit rooms. Other units that I like are:







Minolta DiMAGE Z2





Kodak LS743





Kodak CX7530





Fuji FinePix S5100





Canon PowerShot SD300
Any tips?









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Old Feb 27, 2005, 4:06 PM   #2
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Some new models were announced so you should wait and see if you can (eg. Konica Minolta Z5).

In any case, I think you should decide on size first. It's kind of hard to compare something liike Canon SD300 (ultra-compact) against something like Konica Minolta Z2 (ultra-zoom) vs Fuji E550 (low-zoom).


Typically, the ultra-compacts have no manual controls, cost more per feature, and low zoom (usually 3x) but are obviously very small and can be carried effortlessly in a pocket. Usually, the larger the camera, the better the features and price.

So I would try to figure out the size you want first.

Then I would look for key features like (optical) zoom and megapixels. Narrow down the cameras based on the zoom you want (10x zoom is a lot while 3x is standard)... and the megapixels (3megapixels will let you print average 8"x10" prints without cropping; I would look at 3MP as minimum and around 4MP as a good cost/MP tradeoff).

After that, I would look at your requirement of [email protected] unlimited video.

You also should eliminate cameras based on price at some stage but usually you can control the price by downgrading the megapixels (eg. if 5MP costs too much for you then look at a 4MP model or whatever)...

As a rule of thumb, Sony has good video in nearly all of their ultra-compacts and compacts. Canon's ultra-compacts and compacts usually have limited video (loook carefully).... as far as ultra-zooms are concerned, the best one is perhaps the Canon S1 IS (but this has poor low light performance and is only 3 megapixels). Second best is the Konica Minolta Z3 (or the newly announced Z5). If you don't care about image stabilization, then the Fuji or Olympus ultra-zooms are ok too.

Make sure that the video mode for your picks lets you zoom and record sound (some don't). I would also make sure it has unlimited recording at 30 fps (frames per sec). Slower framerates will be choppy and next to useless...
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Old Feb 27, 2005, 5:47 PM   #3
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our kind and



Hi Sivaram,



(I am having trouble trying to paste this because of the black background)



I appreciate your kind and considered reply. It's always great to have a sounding board.



I didn't know about the Minolta Z5 coming out. I had planned to wait until July or August before buying. I was leaning toward the Z2 because of the 800 by 600 15fps video option, but the image-stabilization of the later models is desirable as well



I've spent a long time lugging around a 35 mm SRL and lenses and it's good not to be tied to that size and weight any longer. The small size of the tiny digital camera that I have now (2 MP Vivitar) is one thing I find attractive. Price and performance being the same or similar, I tend to prefer a camera that I can squeeze into a pocket. That being said, I prefer the economy of AA NIMH batteries compared with proprietary varieties. Also, a larger than average LCD screen is a definite plus. I am tending to feel that a 3X zoom is probably going to be adequate for most of my applications, and perhaps preferable if the longer zoom is jerky, noisy, slow to focus, or, as you say, unavailable altogether during recording.



I do want to be able to control shutter speed enough to avoid blurring. That little Vivitar 3632 is so buggy. I need a tripod anytime I take a picture indoors, and the flash appears to have no control of output whatever. It's only good between around 3 to 6 feet and even then the room has to be very dim to avoid extreme overexposure. I've got a lot of good pictures from it, but I think it is a pre-production model that was dumped by being packaged as a "free" item with Lexmark printers.



I don't like seeing image degradation when printing. I have found that 4 megapixels is the minimum that's going to satisfy me in that regard. Five or 6 would be even better. After all, you can always select lower resolutions when you know you are never going to want to print the shot. I found that in the sample pics on Steve's pages that the better cameras (generally 5 mp+) could be distinguished by the lettering on the signs in the hotel shots. The 6 mp Fuji E550 had the best I looked at with regard to that particular shot.



Speaking of the video clips. I have a bug with my computer that causes the clips to play jerky when you save them to the hard drive and play them sometime later. The first few tries they play well, then the jerky play ensues? Have you any idea what could be happening here. I also found the AVI clips that the E550 produced the best color and contrast to my eyes of all the clips I compared.



You also should eliminate cameras based on price at some stage but usually you can control the price by downgrading the megapixels (e.g. if 5MP costs too much for you then look at a 4MP model or whatever)...

I am not sure about which cameras permit zooming while recording video. Will remember to recheck that part. Steve's reports are usually very thorough.



Thanks again for your comments.



considered reply. It's always great to have a sounding board.



I didn't know about the Minolta Z5 coming out. I had planned to wait until July or August before buying. I was leaning toward the Z2 because of the 800 by 600 15fps video option, but the image-stabilization of the later models is desirable as well



I've spent a long time lugging around a 35 mm SRL and lenses and it's good not to be tied to that size and weight any longer. The small size of the tiny digital camera that I have now (2 MP Vivitar) is one thing I find attractive. Price and performance being the same or similar, I tend to prefer a camera that I can squeeze into a pocket. That being said, I prefer the economy of AA NIMH batteries compared with proprietary varieties. Also, a larger than average LCD screen is a definite plus. I am tending to feel that a 3X zoom is probably going to be adequate for most of my applications, and perhaps preferable if the longer zoom is jerky, noisy, slow to focus, or, as you say, unavailable altogether during recording.



I do want to be able to control shutter speed enough to avoid blurring. That little Vivitar 3632 is so buggy. I need a tripod anytime I take a picture indoors, and the flash appears to have no control of output whatever. It's only good between around 3 to 6 feet and even then the room has to be very dim to avoid extreme overexposure. I've got a lot of good pictures from it, but I think it is a pre-production model that was dumped by being packaged as a "free" item with Lexmark printers.



I don't like seeing image degradation when printing. I have found that 4 megapixels is the minimum that's going to satisfy me in that regard. Five or 6 would be even better. After all, you can always select lower resolutions when you know you are never going to want to print the shot. I found that in the sample pics on Steve's pages that the better cameras (generally 5 mp+) could be distinguished by the lettering on the signs in the hotel shots. The 6 mp Fuji E550 had the best I looked at with regard to that particular shot.



Speaking of the video clips. I have a bug with my computer that causes the clips to play jerky when you save them to the hard drive and play them sometime later. The first few tries they play well, then the jerky play ensues? Have you any idea what could be happening here. I also found the AVI clips that the E550 produced the best color and contrast to my eyes of all the clips I compared.



You also should eliminate cameras based on price at some stage but usually you can control the price by downgrading the megapixels (e.g. if 5MP costs too much for you then look at a 4MP model or whatever)...

I am not sure about which cameras permit zooming while recording video. Will remember to recheck that part. Steve's reports are usually very thorough.



Thanks again for your comments.





I appreciate your kind and considered reply. It's always great to have a sounding board.



I didn't know about the Minolta Z5 coming out. I had planned to wait until July or August before buying. I was leaning toward the Z2 because of the 800 by 600 15fps video option, but the image-stabilization of the later models is desirable as well



I've spent a long time lugging around a 35 mm SRL and lenses and it's good not to be tied to that size and weight any longer. The small size of the tiny digital camera that I have now (2 MP Vivitar) is one thing I find attractive. Price and performance being the same or similar, I tend to prefer a camera that I can squeeze into a pocket. That being said, I prefer the economy of AA NIMH batteries compared with proprietary varieties. Also, a larger than average LCD screen is a definite plus. I am tending to feel that a 3X zoom is probably going to be adequate for most of my applications, and perhaps preferable if the longer zoom is jerky, noisy, slow to focus, or, as you say, unavailable altogether during recording.



I do want to be able to control shutter speed enough to avoid blurring. That little Vivitar 3632 is so buggy. I need a tripod anytime I take a picture indoors, and the flash appears to have no control of output whatever. It's only good between around 3 to 6 feet and even then the room has to be very dim to avoid extreme overexposure. I've got a lot of good pictures from it, but I think it is a pre-production model that was dumped by being packaged as a "free" item with Lexmark printers.



I don't like seeing image degradation when printing. I have found that 4 megapixels is the minimum that's going to satisfy me in that regard. Five or 6 would be even better. After all, you can always select lower resolutions when you know you are never going to want to print the shot. I found that in the sample pics on Steve's pages that the better cameras (generally 5 mp+) could be distinguished by the lettering on the signs in the hotel shots. The 6 mp Fuji E550 had the best I looked at with regard to that particular shot.



Speaking of the video clips. I have a bug with my computer that causes the clips to play jerky when you save them to the hard drive and play them sometime later. The first few tries they play well, then the jerky play ensues? Have you any idea what could be happening here. I also found the AVI clips that the E550 produced the best color and contrast to my eyes of all the clips I compared.



You also should eliminate cameras based on price at some stage but usually you can control the price by downgrading the megapixels (e.g. if 5MP costs too much for you then look at a 4MP model or whatever)...

I am not sure about which cameras permit zooming while recording video. Will remember to recheck that part. Steve's reports are usually very thorough.



Thanks again for your comments.


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Old Feb 27, 2005, 5:59 PM   #4
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Hi Sivaram,

I tried first pasting my reply from a word processor but the HTML did not allow the white color on black to be displayed. I will endeavour to retype (some at least) ofwhat I said.

I appreciate your kind and considered reply. It's always great to have a sounding board.

I didn't know about the Minolta Z5 that is coming out. I had planned to wait until July or August before buying. I was leaning toward the Z2 rather than the Z3 because the former had 800 by 600 at 15fps. The image stabalization in the latter is desirable too, though.

I've spent many years lugging around a heavy SLR so I appreciate being free of the large size and weight with cases, etc. Price and performance being similar, I tend to prefer a camera that I can squeeze into a pocket. I also prefer AA batteries. I have the impression that the long zooms are problematic in various ways. That being said, I wound probably put up with 3X or 4X.

4 MP would be a minimum.

I felt the E550 had the best video clips and wide angle shots of those I compared.

BTW, do you have any idea how to overcome jerky playback on video clips. They play good first but later the computer plays them jerky.

Can you advise further with regard to cameras that permit good zoom action while recording video?










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Old Feb 27, 2005, 7:03 PM   #5
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I think the E550 is a bargain at its current online prices. Fast and has good picture quality. I had the S7000 and think that Steve's sample pics for the E550 were sharper thanthose for the S7000, which I liked, by the way.

If youget jerky videoplayback on your computer, there could be several reasons:

1. You're playing it off your camera which is attached to the computer via USB cord. (especially via a USB 1.1 connection (either the cord itself or the computer USB port).

2. Same as 1, but with a card reader



3. You're playing it on a computer whose video card can't keep up with the speed of processing needed to display the video smoothly.



4. Your computer doesn't have enough RAM, so the computerresorts to using the hard drive as virtual RAM. Doesn't cut it, usually



5. I don't know ...
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Old Feb 28, 2005, 8:40 AM   #6
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Hi Robbo,

Thanks for the reply. Do you have the FujiE550? I have been playing the videos on the computer (saved to desktop). The odd thing is that they play fine for so long - perhaps an hour or so. Then, after running some other clips of different format, perhaps a few hours later, they all start to play jerky. My 20 gb drive has only 2 gb of free space - so that probablyis involved. I notice the red light on the hard drive longer after booting lately. I have 128 mb of RAM and an NVidia GForce 2 MX/400 video card. There's a ton of spyware on the go these days so God only knows what may be on there that's not being detected by by software that is slowing things down. The other odd thing is that, once the clips start playing jerky, rebooting doesn't help. While on the subject of Videos, there's another subject I am unclear on. Do those cameras come with software for creating Video CD's to play on a DVD player? Storage isexpensive too, at 16 mb for every 18 sec of video. That's only 2 mins or so for a 128 mb card. Seems2 or 3cards in theGB range would be desirable on a trip. At current prices, those could double the cost of the camera purchase. What's the cheapest way to store 2 or 3 hours of video on the go? Do I need to buy a notebook computer too??

AP


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Old Feb 28, 2005, 4:50 PM   #7
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Hi Ap,

No, I don't have the E550, though I was thinking about it after my S7000 was stolen about 3 weeks ago. Instead, I went for the long zoom S5100, which has the same video recording ability as the E550 (and S7000).

Just off the top of my head, I offer these suggestions:

1. Get more RAM - if possible another stick of 256 Megs. It shouldn't be that expensive. I like the stuff that crucial sells - www.crucial.com

2. Defragment your hard drive. It's easy on XP. Not so hard on previous OS's, either.

3. Buy a 512 Meg xD memory card. I got one last week from www.newegg.com for about 63 bucks, including shipping.

4. You can get an external hard drive of 80 megs for less than $100, if you look around online. Attach it to your computer, via a USB 2.0, if possible. Use it to store your pictures and videos.

I think you are using the video mode more than most users of the E550. If you want to get a laptop, Dell has some under $700 about every other week. Spend the extra 30 or 40 bucks for the upgrade in hard drive from 20 to 40 or whatever. I think there are some storage solutions for emptying your card which don't require a laptop, but I am not up on them. Maybe some other guys on the forum are.

I would also get some anti-spyware software. Lavasoft's Ad-Aware is pretty good and free, too, for the basic version.



Good luck!


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Old Feb 28, 2005, 7:17 PM   #8
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Hi Robbo,

Thanks again for the reply. Actually, I thinkI may have misled you. I do not have the E550, but it was my number one choice at the moment for a prospective purchase. The video clips that I have been playing are just Steve's sample ones that I saved to my computer. I alsomade a mistake on the RAM on this computer. There is currently 256 Mb installed rather than 128. With regard to the disk space, I removed another 2.3 gb of pics today and cleaned anddefraged but that made no difference to the problem. A second larger hard drive is a good idea. Somehow, though, I suspect reformatting the existing one is also in the works. The fact that tall the clips play well the first few tries, but then somehow they all get jerky later on is strange. It's similar to the way Windows explorer sometimes slows down after so much file swapping. I suspect Bill Gates figures somehow into this whole dilemma ;-) I would also love to be able to pick up a cheap laptop or notebook - Ohthe joys of trying to live off a pension!




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Old Mar 1, 2005, 6:54 AM   #9
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Sounds frustrating. I know some software programs are memory hogs, and even after you shut them down, they continue to hog your RAM. If you have a couple of programs like that, you have a problem. But usually, rebooting clears up this problem. Definitely defrag your hard drive ASAP.

If you are going to do lots of video recording, I would suggest getting a cheap digital camcorder. I think the video quality is better than anything from even the best digital still cams and you can zoom in and out with no problem. In the US, I think there are a lot of decent digital camcorders for less than $500.You can usually use either Firewire or USB 2.0 connections to download.

You may be living on a limited pension, but your desire to master many aspects of the digital image world reveals a youthful spirit. Now if you could find a youthful and wealthy sponsor, you'd be set!

Good luck!
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Old Mar 1, 2005, 9:35 AM   #10
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Hi Robbo,

Thanks again. The interesting thing about the computer problems playing videos is that I have never seenjerky playhappen to any of the other videos that I already have on my computer. Some of those were saved from my own Vivitar 3632 and others were sent by my son who uses a moderately-advanced 2 yr-old model Canon 4 mb camera. The jerkiness has only happened thus far with those clips I downloaded from Steve's pages. The other thing I notice is that the jerkiness only occurrs when I alternate between playingQuicktime clips and then playingAVI clips. It has never happened in either format the first time I playafter downloading - only some time later - typically some hours. Once the jerky play starts in either of the clips, the clips are basically no good to viewany longer - I have to delete them. It's almost as though they were designed to "self-destruct"afterbeing played so many times.

To be honest, Idon't have much of an idea of how often I will use video. If the past year is any indication, I will probably only use video once or twicea year -on trips or to photograph grandchildren when they visit from away. The thing is, when I do take videos, I like for them tobe worth looking at and also I wouldn't want to be limited to very short, say 30-secclips. I grow plants and flowers and do personal web pages and a web page for my church, so I take thousands of still pics of plants and flowers for my own web page anddozens ofpics of people (hundreds over time) for the church page. About the only time I take videos at Church is of Santa Claus at the Christmas party.

The main reason I want to upgrade is thatmy Vivitar 3632 is so very buggy and so very primitive.

About digitalcamcorders -Are there anyout there under $500thatwrite directly to cd's or other cheap media?




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